Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 96, Issue 6, pp 415–420 | Cite as

Neighbourhood Socio-economic Status and the Prevalence of Overweight Canadian Children and Youth

  • Lisa N. OliverEmail author
  • Michael V. Hayes


Background: The purposes of this study are to determine (i) if neighbourhood socio-economic status (SES) is systematically related to the prevalence of overweight children and youth in Canada, (ii) if the factors accounting for the apparent relationship have face validity, and (iii) if neighbourhood SES has an independent influence on this distribution.

Methods: Cross-sectional data from Cycle 4 (2000/2001) of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth were used. Children and youth aged 5 to 17 were included. Overweight was established using age and sex cut-off points. Neighbourhood socio-economic data were obtained from the Statistics Canada 2001 Dissemination Area databases and SES quartiles constructed using a composite of socio-economic variables. Hierarchical non-linear modelling was used to test for independent neighbourhood effects.

Results: A gradient of increasing overweight prevalence by decreasing neighbourhood SES quartiles was observed (24% high SES, 30% mid-high SES, 33% mid-low SES, 35% low SES). Controlling for individual age, gender, family income and education hierarchical analysis found that a child’s odds of being overweight increases if living in a low versus a high SES neighbourhood (OR=1.29, 95% CI=1.14-1.46).

Interpretation: The prevalence of child and youth overweight in Canada is inversely and statistically significantly related to neighbourhood SES. Independent effects indicate that neighbourhood characteristics directly influence the odds of being overweight. This research suggests that consideration of opportunity structures that exist in different types of neighbourhoods is fundamentally important to health promotion and disease prevention strategies.

MeSH terms

Obesity socioeconomic factors population health residence characteristics 


Contexte: Notre étude visait à déterminer i) si le statut socioéconomique (SSE) du quartier est systématiquement lié à la prévalence de l’embonpoint chez les enfants et les adolescents au Canada, ii) si les facteurs expliquant ce lien possible ont une validité apparente, et iii) si le SSE du quartier exerce une influence indépendante sur cette répartition.

Méthode: Nous avons utilisé des données transversales du 4e cycle (2000 2001) de l’Enquête longitudinale nationale sur les enfants et les jeunes, en incluant les enfants et les adolescents de 5 à 17 ans. L’embonpoint a été déterminé selon des points limites par âge et par sexe. Les données socioéconomiques des quartiers sont tirées des bases de données des aires de diffusion de Statistique Canada pour 2001, et les quartiles par SSE ont été calculés à l’aide d’une moyenne composée de variables socioéconomiques. Nous avons utilisé la modélisation hiérarchique non linéaire pour évaluer l’influence indépendante exercée par les quartiers.

Résultats: Nous avons observé une prévalence croissante de l’embonpoint inversement proportionnelle au quartile du statut socioéconomique du quartier (24 % d’embonpoint dans les quartiers ayant un SSE supérieur, 30 % pour un SSE moyen à supérieur, 33 % pour un SSE moyen à inférieur et 35 % pour un SSE inférieur). Après avoir apporté des ajustements pour tenir compte des effets de l’âge, du sexe, du revenu familial et de la scolarité, nous avons déterminé grâce à une analyse hiérarchique que la probabilité d’embonpoint augmente si l’enfant vit dans un quartier au SSE faible plutôt que dans un quartier au SSE élevé (RC=1,29, IC de 95 %=1,14-1,46).

Interprétation: La prévalence de l’embonpoint chez les enfants et les jeunes au Canada est inversement proportionnelle au SSE du quartier, et cette relation est statistiquement significative. D’après l’étude des effets indépendants, les caractéristiques du quartier influencent directement la probabilité de faire de l’embonpoint. Notre étude donne à penser qu’il est fondamental, dans les stratégies de promotion de la santé et de prévention des maladies, de tenir compte des structures de possibilités qui existent dans différents quartiers.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Fontaine K, Redden D, Wang C, Westfall A, Allison D. Years of life lost due to obesity. JAMA 2003;289:187–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Katzmarzyk P. Overweight and obesity mortality trends in Canada, 1985–2000. Can J Public Health 2004;95:16–20.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Rosenbloom A, Joe J, Young R, Winter W. Emerging epidemic of Type 2 diabetes in youth. Diabetes Care 1999;22:345–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Goran I, Ball G, Cruz M. Obesity and the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in children and adolescents. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2003;88:1417–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Freedman D, Srinivasan S, Berenson G. Risk of cardiovascular complications. In: Burniat W, Cole T, Lissau I, Poskitt A (Eds.), Child and Adolescent Obesity: Causes and Consequences, Prevention and Management. Cambridge, UK: University of Cambridge Press, 2002.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Freedman D, Khan L, Dietz W, Srinivasan S, Berenson G. Relationship of childhood obesity to coronary heart disease risk factors in adulthood: The Bogalusa Heart Study. Pediatrics 2001;108:712–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ball G, McCargar L. Childhood obesity in Canada: A review of prevalence estimates and risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. Can J Appl Physiol 2003;28:117–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mustillo S, Worthman C, Erkanli A, Keeler G, Angold A, Costello E. Obesity and psychiatric disorders: Developmental trajectories. Pediatrics 2003;111:851–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Friedman J, Brownell K. Psychological correlates of obesity: Moving to the next research generation. Psychol Bull 1995;117:3–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Tremblay M, Willms J. Secular trends in the Body Mass Index of Canadian children. CMAJ 2001;163:1429–33.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Wang G, Dietz W. Economic burden of obesity in youths aged 6–17 years: 1979–1999. Pediatrics 2002;109:e88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Birmingham C, Muller J, Palepu A, Spinelli J, Anis A. The cost of obesity in Canada. CMAJ 1999;160:483–88.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Willms J, Tremblay M, Katzmarzyk P. Geographic and demographic variations in the prevalence of overweight Canadian children. Obes Res 2003;11:668–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Tremblay MS, Willms JD. Is the Canadian childhood obesity epidemic related to physical inactivity? Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2003;27:1100–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ellaway A, Anderson A, Macintyre S. Does area of residence affect body size and shape? Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1997;24:304–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Sundquist J, Malmstrom M, Johansson S. Cardiovascular risk factors and the neighbourhood environment: A multilevel environment. Int J Epidemiol 1999;28:841–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    van Lenthe FJ, Mackenbach JP. Neighbourhood deprivation and overweight: The GLOBE study. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2002;26:234–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Molnar BE, Gortmaker SL, Bull FC, Buka SL. Unsafe to play? Neighborhood disorder and lack of safety predict reduced physical activity among urban children and adolescents. Am J Health Promot 2004;18:378–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Reidpath D, Burns C, Garrard J, Mahoney M, Townsend M. An ecological study of the relationship between social and environmental determinants of obesity. Health and Place 2002;8:141–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Wrigley N, Warm D, Margetts B. Deprivation, diet, and food-retail access: Findings from the Leeds ‘food desert’ study. Env & Plan A 2003;35:151–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Boyle M, Lipman E. Do places matter? Socioeconomic disadvantage and behavioural problems of children in Canada. J Consult Clin Psychol 2002;70:378–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kohen D, Brooks-Gunn J, Leventhal T, Hertzman C. Neighbourhood income and physical and social disorder in Canada: Associations with young children’s competencies. Child Development 2002;73:1844–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Curtis L, Doodley M, Phipps S. Child well-being and neighbourhood quality: Evidence from the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth. Soc Sci Med 2004;58:1917–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Statistics Canada and Human Resources Development Canada. National Longitudinal Survey of Children: Overview of Survey Instruments for 2000/01 Data Collection, Cycle 4 Instruments Catalogue no. 89F0078XIE. Ottawa, ON: Minister of Industry, 2004.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Cole TJ, Bellizzi MC, Flegal KM, Dietz WH. Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: International survey. BMJ 2000;320:1240–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Willms JD, Fedick DB. The CRISP NLSCY Infrastructure Files: SPSS syntax files and training manual for use with the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth. Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy: University of New Brunswick [Distributor].Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Statistics Canada. Postal Code Conversion File, PCCF+ Version 4B, January 2003 Postal Codes. Ottawa, ON: Census of Canada, 2001 Census, 2003.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Raudenbush S, Bryk A. Hierarchical Linear Models: Applications and Data Analysis Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2002.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Statistics Canada and Human Resources Development Canada. Microdata User Guide, National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth. Cycle 4 (September 2000 to May 2001), 2003.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Powers C, Lake JK, Cole TJ. Measurement and long-term health risks of child and adolescent fatness. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1997;21:507–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Strauss R. Comparison of measured and self-reported weight and height in a cross-sectional sample of young adolescents. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1999;23:904–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Kawachi I, Berkman LF. Introduction. In: Kawachi I, Berkman LF (Eds.), Neighborhoods and Health. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2003;1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographySimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

Personalised recommendations